A new report from corporate real estate firm Reis ranks the Research Triangle as No. 23 on its top 25 list that ranks in its views the leading candidates for the new Amazon HQ project.

But some of the New York firm’s findings may come as a surprise.

Triangle backers may find some comfort in the list, given that our region even was ranked. After all, Charlotte was not. Nor were the Triad or Hickory, which were among bids submitted by North Carolina entities.

And Austin, the Texas capital rich in culture and tech that is often viewed as a Raleigh rival, didn’t make the list.

New York is the leader with a score of 4.8 from Reis that ranks metros on eight different values, from cost of doing business to mass transit and access to higher education.

The Triangle has done well and not-so-well in a variety of reports assessing what various experts predict based on their own data and Amazon’s request for proposals. Many more are likely to be published as the Amazon review of more than 200 bids is reviewed in the Seattle HQ of the ecommerce giant.

But let’s take a look at what Reis found – and contrast the Triangle to the Big Apple, which came in No. 1.

Inside the numbers

Here’s the most surprising finding – to me, anyway.

What’s one of the first items people say makes the Triangle such a hot spot for growth (one of nation’s fastest) and a center for high tech as well as life science?

Give yourself a fist bump if you blurted out almost instantly:

“Quality of life!”

Yet the Reis score gave the Triangle a thumbs down with a score of minus 64 percent for “amenities and quality of life.”

New York, on the other hand, got a plus 145 percent.

Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Another surprise came in the category “business taxes.”

How often have government officials and corporate developers touted North Carolina’s tax system as “business friendly”?

Yet Reis gave the Triangle a minus eight percent on that score. (At least high-tax New York got a minus 17 percent, demonstrating that Reis isn’t a homer for the home town.)

A glaring weakness

From the get-go in the Amazon HQ bidding process, the ecommerce giant said the metro area selected needed to offer mass transit. And that’s a red flag for the Triangle, as critics said from the start.

Reis hammers the Triangle with a minus 69 percent on that scale.

New York, meanwhile, got a whopping 593 percent positive.

The positives

Reis data gives the Triangle positive scores for:

  • Cost of doing business
  • Cost of living
  • Concentration of “professional employment”
  • Concentration of tech employment
  • Access to higher education

In fact, higher ed (61 percent) and tech employment (47 percent) were substantially higher than New York.

You can download the report at no charge via: